As we crossed the road and headed toward the cornfield, we could hear the occasional crowing of cock pheasants originating from the inner portions of the still-standing grain field. I thought, "It's been a while since I hunted state-stocked pheasants on state-owned lands, but this appears to have some promise." This occurred a couple weeks ago, during the New York State Outdoor Writers Association's Annual Fall Conference, held this year in Plattsburgh and centered at the Holiday Inn on Route 3.
The bustling city of Plattsburgh is probably most noted by non-residents for two things – once being the home to the large Air Force base that was closed in 1995, and being situated on the northern third of Lake Champlain, less than a half-hour drive from the Canadian border. Plattsburgh hosted the oldest military post in the United States, purchased by the Federal Government on Dec.30, 1814. It originally consisted of only 200 acres and was known as the "Plattsburgh Barracks." Many different types of units have served at Plattsburgh over the years, using a variety of weapons, from muskets and cannons to the sophisticated FB-111As and KC-135s. What was the military base is now Plattsburgh International Airport and a new passenger terminal is slated to be finished in 2007.
Plattsburgh's early importance was due to its location on Lake Champlain, as the lake provided the only method of Colonial transportation trough the wilderness area of what is now New York State and Vermont. At the beginning of the War of 1812, Plattsburgh again became a center of military activity. On Sept.3, 1814, 14,000 British troops crossed the Canadian border and started advancing south. The British met little resistance until they reached the town of Plattsburgh. Brigadier General Macomb with a total force of 1,500 regulars and 700 militia stopped the British land force at the Saranac River by burning the bridge in order to make any British crossing a costly one.